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Three Areas Madden Falls Short on Sim Stuck
Posted on August 27, 2013 at 10:55 AM.


In the early years of the Madden franchise, fans were happy just to have a game that gave them the ability to play as their favorite NFL team, but that obviously no longer suffices. The sports gaming genre has grown immensely over the last 15 years, and so has consumer expectations. EA Sports will be releasing their 25th anniversary edition of Madden this year, which is extremely impressive for an individual franchise, but this same franchise has had its struggles during the current generation.

Electronic Arts did themselves no favors, at least in the world of public perception, when they struck a deal in 2005 for the exclusive licensing rights for the NFL. While it may have been an lucratively beneficial deal for both sides, it put a target squarely on the back of EA Sports, who nowfound themselves and their Madden franchise under a microscope of scrutiny, and rightfully so. Since putting pen to paper for the NFL licensing rights Madden has sold consistently well, but has struggled create a title that the masses would call a true simulation.

We wanted to take a look at three areas, that in our honest opinion, are holding this franchise back from being recognized as not only a fun title, but a title that serves the hardcore fan as well.

Game speed
If you’re a fan of the NFL these days, than you understand that today’s professional athlete in the league is bigger, stronger, and faster, but there is still a side of the NFL that has a slower simplicity to it. While the game itself does a decent job of replicating what one would see on Sunday(or Thursday and Monday) in terms of an individual athlete, the actual overall speed of the game plays out way too fast. The good folks over at EA Sports simply need to understand that while the athletes are faster, the game itself is not always at mach speed.

Quarterback Accuracy
– This has been an issue almost the entire current generation of Madden, as apparently every quarterback in the NFL is either Peyton Manning or Tom Brady. In 2012 the Atlanta Falcons led the NFL in completion ratio at 68%, and only half of the teams in the league were actually in the 60% range. In Madden though(on default) even average quarterbacks throw routinely in the low to mid-60% range, and the better quarterbacks will often breach the 70% to 80% range. The types of in-completions in Madden are another issue, as they need to incorporate larger varieties of overthrows, underthrows, and passes behind and in front of the intended receiver. Not every incompletion in the NFL is an interception, a throw out of bounds, or a swatted pass, and EA has to recognize this fact.

Simulation stats
As a franchise lover myself, the simulation engine used in the Madden series is abysmal. Depending on the year, fans of the title may see an incessant amount of interceptions, non-existent run game, or quarterback sack totals that would rival Jerry Ball(Lions) back in the day of Tecmo Super Bowl. There are a variety of problems that plague the stat simulation engine that EA continues to use that can literally ruin the game for franchise lovers, and our hope is that EA recognizes and fixes this issue with the next generation of consoles.

There are obviously more issues with the Madden franchise than just the three we mentioned, but these three are pretty important. That’s not to say that Madden isn’t a fun franchise, but isn’t it possible to be fun and accurate at the same time?
# 1 bluengold34_OS @ Aug 24
Real - do you play with 15 minutes right now with acc clock on?
# 2 DBMcGee3 @ Aug 26
It seems to me that EA just doesn't do AI well when it comes to CPU controlled players. FIFA is the same way in my opinion. Any player not controlled by the user is generally just standing around. I want to love this year's Madden, but from the demo it just seems like some of these areas are not fixable via the sliders, and therefore a deal breaker for me. I think I'll just wait a few weeks until some custom rosters and slider sets are available, then rent it and see what I think.
# 3 bluengold34_OS @ Aug 26
Well after playing the early release, I would be lying if I said I wasn't having some fun, but there are definitely areas that could be(and should have been) improved - but it looks likes our hopes will lie with the next gen version -
# 4 mikemck09 @ Aug 26
The non existence of penalties also kill this game... The main and most glaring reason why EA chooses not to care about the Sim crowd is because they want to please their money making section of the game, which is the Online Gamers... Guys that spend money of UT, guys who only play Online Tourneys etc. If they made this game to replicate real football, then all the arcade Online Spamfest guys would complain and kill sales... Its all about the money, I will not be purchasing M25. Its a shame that Backbreaker even plays more sim than Madden.
# 5 bluengold34_OS @ Aug 26
Mike - you make a great point about the penalties - or lack there of. They play such an integral part of the game in real life - yet are an afterthought in this title(at least in recent efforts)
# 6 jhogan3132 @ Aug 27
Interesting blog. I cant argue any of the 3 issues you speak of here. The worst for me being the sim engine.
# 7 Valdarez @ Aug 28
Agree. One of the aspects I truly enjoyed about APF2K8 was how they slowed the game down a bit. This allowed you to employ strategy better on both the offensive & defensive side, attempt passes or interceptions you never would have otherwise, and generally provide a far better overall experience of the game.
# 8 bluengold34_OS @ Aug 28
Valderez - I am actually playing on slow in Madden right now, and although some people call it the "stuck in the mud: issue, I am actually enjoying the pace quite a bit. Ran for 159 yards and 4 touchdowns on slow last night, using Alfred Morris. The game before that I ran for 130 yards using Matt Forte - and this is with having human run blocking at 0 -
# 9 kjcheezhead @ Aug 28
Nice read. I would expand the qb acurracy problem and throw in the entire passing system. The ball tethered to the wr system is designed for casual pick up n play and user acurracy. It just doesn't feel authentic like a route based system does.
# 10 keshunleon @ Aug 29
I never really was a Madden fan but 95 I really enjoyed. When Madden came to 360/PS3 there were issues I never could get over: running, cutting, change of direction, and spinning animations, lack of a running game, passing, the ball sliding into WR's hands, QB's arm not going forward but a perfect pass, etc.. I tried Madden13 and 25 and as soon as the CPU was about to hike the ball and the camera view zoomed out (to get the user to jump offsides) I was done with the game. After it continued to do it 3 or 4 times before halftime I turned the game off. Not to mention the WR's are running perfect routes and the DB's are still backing up 3-4 steps while the WR is 4-5 steps ahead of them already.
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